How can past relationships ruin your faith in finding new love?

The day I finally moved away from my ex-husband’s house, this Alison Krauss song kept running through my mind:

tell negative committee to shut up“I think I’ll take my foolish heart, my friend and head right for the door, there’ll be a better world awaiting if I do…I won’t be blue, with dreams that can’t come true.  I’ll take my heart, and head right for the door.”

Some of you may have arrived here by searching for information about knowing when to leave a relationship that isn’t right for you anymore.  When these words speak to you, it’s time to leave!

I kept a journal of the time after my own separation and divorce. Reading through it in the past few days, I was surprised that even years later I still felt depressed and damaged by staying so long in the wrong marriage. Fully two years after the divorce I wrote:

“The two beliefs I gained from spending too much time with [my ex] are: Men are all jerks, and no one would ever want to be with me because I’m too much trouble. I am flawed.”

I felt so angry because I had let him have so much influence over me, and how I felt about myself.

Going through a major break up is devastating, even if you have no love left for your ex. I spent a few years kicking myself for staying so long with such a jerk. Only then did I realize that he was moving on and it was high time for me to do the same. I needed to find a way to let go of all of the false assumptions I had gained by spending far too much time him.

Finding self-love is the only solution to feeling flawed and unloveable. For me this required spending quite a bit of time alone, getting reacquainted with myself. Not the self that had stayed in a bad marriage too long, but the self that loved to walk her dogs along the river, watercolor, and remodel her home into a place she could love. The self that was strong and resilient and ready to find love and happiness again. I had to love myself into believing in love again.

Then I had to convince myself that all men were not jerks. My dating service worked well for this. I met and interviewed many men, a few of whom I really liked. I remember one day in the summer of 2004, when I interviewed three different men.  On the way home, a line from a James Taylor song came through loud and clear: “And my heart came back alive.”

Being around good friends convinced me to try again, and I’m so glad I did. Feeling loved and appreciated is an incredible gift worth working for.

Laura Lee has a new book out: A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado. Go see!

How to Manage Couple Closeness

Mike and I after weddingThere are so many ways to manage “closeness” in couples. The most important part of the equation is to be sure to love and respect each other at all times. Don’t be the kind of couple who stays together forever only because you are afraid to be alone. I know from personal experience, the loneliest I have ever felt was being in the wrong relationship or marriage.

Mike and I met at age 50. By that time both of us were pretty clear on who we were, and who we wanted to spend our time with. We found spending time together was easier than with anyone else we had ever met before, but we also had very different interests and approaches to life. He loves a good project that includes making and fixing things, especially electronic or motorized things. I enjoy the world of creativity with words, writing, editing, photography and publishing.

people are made to be lovedIn psychology, this is called “differentiation.”  Differentiation is how susceptible your ‘self’ is to group pressure. The less susceptible to the pressure of others, the higher your differentiation level. A high level of differentiation means a strong sense of who you are, separate from others.  The process of holding onto your sense of self in an intense emotional relationship is what develops your sense of differentiation. That is healthy togetherness.

Luckily, because Mike and I had each lived alone for years before we met, we had each developed a strong sense of self. We had little “fear of disappearing into a relationship.” That is not to say that we didn’t struggle at times with maintaining strong, separate selves.

I believe too much closeness or neediness for attention from others is a real buzz kill, especially early in a relationship. When one partner needs a lot more support than the other, the relationship is unbalanced. The needy partner needs to work on their codependency issues and develop a healthy sense of self by finding a good counselor. I found a counselor in my thirties who helped me love and accept myself wholeheartedly through re-parenting therapy. I know from experience that this will take some serious soul surgery, but it can always be done.

I don’t know where I first heard this saying, but it works for me when it comes to healthy self development:

First have the strength to meet self, then have the strength to let go of self.

 Our psychological task as young people is to learn to appreciate who we are, separate from everyone else in this world. As adults, it can be quite beneficial to eventually learn how to let go of self or ego, no longer needing to impress others with who we are.

Self love and acceptance is the BEST GIFT you can give yourself!

Have you ever experienced the power of unconditional love?

“If I know what love is, it is because of you.”  -Herman Hesse

According to Wikipedia, unconditional love is: “affection without any limitations, it can also be love without conditions, sometimes associated with terms such as altruism or complete love.”

Most will agree that unconditional love is a boundless, unchanging feeling.

Lotus LoveHave you ever experienced that kind of feeling?

Do you even believe in it? Is it a bad thing? I was surprised to find, when a friend brought the topic up for discussion this week, that some find it unbelievable or even distasteful. To me it is the ultimate high!

I first started learning about it when I was in counseling in my thirties (thirty years ago). My excellent therapist taught me by showing me that kind of compassion and concern directly. She taught by example and with feelings, not just words. I had never felt so cared for. I had no idea up until then that human relationships could be so uplifting.

These days they call this “reparenting” therapy. Once I could identify the feeling of unconditional love, I felt drawn to it everywhere I went, leading me to a few powerful friendships,       filled with love and genuine concern.

Throughout my deep friendships and romances, I have valued unconditional love, but when I first met Mike at age 49, I knew I had just made one magical connection. The energy was palpable and not just sexual.

To meet someone who you know has the potential to give unconditional love is such a unique gift. The only question then is whether he will feel that way towards you. I told him right off how amazed I was at our powerful energy together and our synchronicities.

Eleven years later I feel his love has been my greatest gift in life. We love each other now without doubt or any conditions. We feel somehow permanently connected even beyond death.

So yes, I do believe in unconditional love… How about you?


The Leap of Faith Needed For Pure Love

talk about your joys“Love is plunging into darkness toward a place that may exist.”  — Marge Piercy

Out of the blue it struck me the other day, exactly how rare it is to feel loved by what I would call a qualified lover.

How often have you felt a lack of judgment, just total acceptance and compassion from another human being, with no expectations of anything in return? How many people have never had this experience, ever?

If you have ever experienced this, were you able to accept such pure love in the moment? Were you able to look past all of your faults and feelings of unworthiness and acknowledge,

“I am now loved.”

The joy I feel when I slow down enough to fully feel all of the love in my life is breathtaking. And I know for certain that there was no room for this love before I hit bottom in 2004.

leap_of_faithWhat changed?   Me.

I stopped denying how much I wanted to feel pure love. I took a gigantic leap of faith and admitted honestly to myself that my only real priority at age 49, was to feel pure love once in this lifetime.

I finally went all in, and said to myself I would not accept anything less, realizing that would require me to offer my best in return.

I was ready to grow up and take full responsibility for my own needs, and by doing so I felt certain that I would know when I met a qualified lover for myself.

And I did. The first man I met after all of this soul surgery came calling, and we both knew quite quickly that we had met our match. Trust was the name of the game back then, so we built it slowly and carefully.

the time is nowWe both equally valued the amazing match we had made. We knew from 50 years of experience what we had was rare and so beautiful. We spoke often and honestly, expressed our many insecurities, and built respect and trust constantly.

And now, eleven years later, I can only say to you, “Go for it!”

Release a bit of your own familiar today!

hope-despair“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.”   – Alan Cohen

How “playing it safe” can be dangerous!

adulthood is like looking both waysActually, this reminds me more of my experience at midlife. I had lived my entire life so carefully, remaining single until 39, and then in a bad marriage and the wrong career, just to “play it safe.” Then when my major crisis hit at age 49, I felt so perplexed.

I remember saying to myself: “I spent my entire life playing it safe, just so I wouldn’t end up like this!”

Too bad I had to wait so long to learn exactly how dangerous “playing it safe” can be!

if-you-obey-all-the-rules-you-miss-all-the-fun Katherine HepburnNow, at age 60, I agree much more with Katherine Hepburn: So many rules, so little time to break them! I break those little rules in my head all of the time now. In fact I try to break at least one a day!

Do you have silly rules that keep you from getting the life you really want?

tell negative committee to shut upDo you have your own ‘itsy bitsy shitty committee’ in your head, that keeps telling you: “You shouldn’t do that!” Does it tell you regularly that you can’t possibly find the kind of love you seek? Tell it to SHUT UP right now, and then go out and find the best kind of love you can!

That’s what I did at age 49. I stopped focusing on the negative experiences in my past, and moved on to the kind of love I had always been looking for, and it worked!

past better not bitterNow, eleven years later, I am living a marvelous life in a solar home in southern Colorado with a prince of a partner, one who would not think of criticizing me. He believes in me!

the time is nowLove is real and the only thing that counts in the end.

Decide that you will somehow find your best kind of love, and then go out and find it TODAY!

If you feel you need some help in this difficult transition from negative to positive, please check out my book! And for some more excellent reading on this topic, check out this article by one of my favorite writers!